India reimposes some curbs in Kashmir as clashes spread

August 19, 2019 07:42
Kashmiri women shout slogans at a protest after Friday prayers in Srinagar on Aug. 16. Photo: Reuters

Indian authorities reimposed restrictions on movement in parts of Kashmir’s biggest city, Srinagar, on Sunday after overnight clashes between residents and police in which dozens were injured, Reuters reports, citing officials and eyewitnesses.

Since Saturday there have been a series of protests against the decision on Aug. 5 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government to revoke the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority region.

The officials said security forces had been pelted with stones on 47 occasions on Saturday night in the Kashmir Valley, and more than 20 on Sunday. One said the protests were growing more intense.

On Saturday, about two dozen people reported to Srinagar’s two main hospitals with injuries, mainly from pellets fired by Indian forces, said the officials, who declined to be named. Residents and police said many people with pellet wounds were not seeking treatment for fear of being identified and arrested.

The state and federal governments did not respond to questions about the number of incidents and the level of injuries.

Rohit Kansal, Jammu and Kashmir spokesman, told a news conference that there had been no untoward incidents from areas where the security forces had relaxed restrictions.

Restrictions remain

“There were reports of incidents of disturbance at two-to-three places where relaxation was not given; the security forces dealt with those incidents locally,” he said.

The Indian authorities also reversed a decision to allow internet and mobile phone use in parts of the Jammu region, according to one of the officials. However, at the news conference, Jammu Divisional Commissioner Sanjeev Verma said this was partly because of a technical problem.

The state government said it was still taking measures to ease the clampdown, which has included a severing of all phone and internet links, curfew-like conditions in many areas, the detention of more than 500 politicians, community leaders and activists, and school closures.

It said primary schools in Srinagar were due to open on Monday, government offices were supposed to be back to normal, telephone landlines were being slowly restored, and restrictions on movement were being progressively relaxed.

However, on Sunday people were being turned back at multiple roadblocks set up in the city, and there was no sign of detainees being released or internet and mobile phone services being restored.

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